Canossian Daughter of Charity(ca. 1869-1947)
+ Born in Sudan, Josephine Bakhita was kidnapped and sold into slavery when she was ten years-old. During her years of enslavement, she suffered unspeakable abuse, so severe that she eventually forgot her given name. “Bakhita,” the name by which she came to be known, is an Arabic word meaning “Lucky.”
+ Purchased by an Italian consul, she was taken to Italy where she converted to the Catholic Faith.
+ She was inspired by the life and service of the Canossian Daughters of Charity and, in 1893, she entered the community, earning a reputation for her piety and charity.
+ Sister Josephine spent the remaining 54 years of her life serving the community and its students in a number of assignments. She willingly forgave those who caused her so much pain, declaring, “If these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today.”
+ Saint Josephine Bakhita died on February 8, 1947, and was canonized in 2000. She is honored as the patron of Sudan.
+ February 8, the optional memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, is the Day of Prayer for Human Trafficking. Take time today to pray for the victims of human trafficking and for an end to this form of modern-day slavery. For resources from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program/about-human-trafficking.cfm
For prayer and reflection
“It was the power of God which made Bakhita – in the likeness of Christ – into the one who enriches many. The poor slave–girl who had nothing showed that she was in fact the one who had the greatest treasure. And even if, humanly speaking, she seemed condemned to death, she lives! She lives just as Christ lives, though he was condemned to death and was crucified. She lives with his life!”—Pope Saint John Paul II
On this day we also remember Saint Jerome Emiliani. A Venetian nobleman who became a priest, he felt a special call to serve orphans at-risk youth and established the first orphanage of modern times around 1530. He later founded many more orphanages, as well as hospitals and homes for “fallen” women. In 1532, he established the congregation of Clerks Regular of Somascha (the Somascan Fathers), whose members work as teachers in colleges, academies, and seminaries. Saint Jerome Emiliani died in 1537, while caring for victims of a plague. Canonized in 1767, he is honored as the patron of orphans and foster children.
O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery
to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ,
grant, we pray, that by her example
we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus crucified,
remaining steadfast in charity
and prompt to show compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.